The Daily Briefing Tuesday, February 27, 2018
AROUND THE NFL
The Commish is not going to let bygones be bygones, even though he successfully landed another enormous contract. Ken Belson of the New York Times gets the leak that Roger Goodell plans on an enormous fine against Jerry Jones (even as the spin is that Goodell is only doing it at the behest of other unnamed owners):
With the support of many N.F.L. owners, Commissioner Roger Goodell is prepared to escalate his public feud with Jerry Jones, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys and long one of the most influential people in the league, by fining him millions of dollars for his efforts to derail negotiations to renew Goodell’s contract and for his outspoken defense of a star player who was suspended, according to five league officials with direct knowledge of the situation.
The punishment will be issued in the coming weeks by Goodell, who will declare that Jones’s actions were detrimental to the league, which rarely shows such acute signs of acrimony among owners and the commissioner’s office. Goodell has been reluctant to be seen as exacting retribution for the way Jones tried to sabotage his contract talks, but he was urged to bring the penalties by several owners who believed that Jones had crossed an unspoken boundary by threatening his colleagues.
In November, Jones hired the high-profile lawyer David Boies and said he was prepared to sue the six owners on the league’s compensation committee, which had been working for months on extending Goodell’s contract. Jones also lobbied loudly for running back Ezekiel Elliott not to be penalized, and reportedly tried to influence league officials deciding his case. Elliott had been suspended by the league for six games before the season after the N.F.L. investigated domestic-assault allegations.
Jones will be ordered to pay the legal fees that the committee incurred defending itself, as well as the legal expenses the N.F.L. spent defending its decision to suspend Elliott.
A spokesman for the Cowboys said the team was unaware of the impending penalties and did not immediately have a comment. A spokesman for the N.F.L. said the league had no comment.
The genesis of the issue dates back about a year. In the months before Elliott, the Cowboys’ star running back, was suspended in August, Jones said publicly that his player did not deserve to be penalized after a former girlfriend accused him of domestic violence in an incident that predated his entry into the N.F.L. Jones also tried to influence one of the league’s top investigators, according to ESPN.
Elliott was not arrested or charged by prosecutors, but the N.F.L. used statements by a former girlfriend of Elliott’s, along with photos of injuries he was accused of inflicting upon her, to justify the suspension.
After Elliott was suspended, Jones continued to support him. Elliott took his case to federal court, where his appeals were ultimately denied.
At the same time, Jones, who was a nonvoting member of the compensation committee, tried to persuade many of the league’s owners that Goodell’s contract extension should be far less generous than the one that was being proposed.
Jones was aware as early as August that only about 12 percent of Goodell’s compensation was guaranteed, and the rest would be based on whether he and the league met a variety of financial targets. Jones, however, continued to argue that Goodell was being overpaid. Though some owners were sympathetic to his stance, many of them backed away from supporting him when he threatened to sue the members of the compensation committee.
The compensation committee includes some of the most powerful owners in the league, and close confidants of the commissioner. The members are the owners of the Chiefs, Falcons, Giants, Patriots, Steelers and Texans.
Soon after Elliott exhausted his appeals, Jones hired Boies, who has over the years represented the N.F.L. In early November, Jones told the six owners on the committee that he had hired Boies and was prepared to take them to court to stop them from finalizing Goodell’s deal.
That set off an embarrassing volley of letters between lawyers for the compensation committee and Jones, and turned the issue of Goodell’s contract extension into a public talking point just as the league was grappling with the fallout from player protests during the playing of the national anthem.
Jones ultimately backed down on his threat to sue, but the ill will remained. At a league meeting in Irving, Tex., in December, Jones was upbraided for his behavior by many owners, including some who rarely weigh in strongly on league issues.
At the same meeting, with the support of most owners, Goodell was given a five-year extension. Under its terms, he has the possibility of earning as much as $200 million.
It turns out that the Commish can only issue a maximum fine of $500,000. But he thinks he can order Jones to re-pay the NFL for its legal expenses in asserting its right to grant the Commissioner absolute power in player discipline. This from Mike Florio:
The failing New York Times has apparently written an inaccurate story about Commissioner Roger Goodell fining Cowboys owner Jerry Jones multiple millions of dollars. Sad!
Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports (i.e., the NFL announces) that Jones will be required to pay $2 million in reimbursement for legal fees, not as a fine for conduct detrimental to the league. (Rapoport’s report came after he initially confirmed/corroborated the notion that Jones will be fined.)
The report from Ken Belson of the New York Times mentioned the issue of reimbursement for fees, but the article plainly stated that Goodell will fine Jones “millions of dollars” by declaring that Jones’ conduct was “detrimental to the league.”
Belson’s article separately mentions that Jones will be required to pay the legal fees incurred by the NFL, both from the threat of litigation Jones made in connection with the extension of Goodell’s contract and, surprisingly, in connection with the NFL’s defense of the decision to suspend Ezekiel Elliott. This means that the league has decided to take the position that Jones and/or his team had sufficient involvement in the effort to defeat the suspension to justify a request for reimbursement of fees.
Whether Jones has a viable defense to the effort, or a mechanism for pursuing it, remains to be seen. Either way, it appears the he won’t be getting fined, but that he’ll still be forking over plenty of money to the league as a result of his effort to derail two of 345 Park Avenue’s the major agenda items from 2017.
Florio subsequently got a further briefing on where the NFL asserts Goodell has the power to make Jones pay for its lawyers:
The effort to recover legal fees, reportedly in excess of $2 million, from Cowboys owner Jerry Jones does not arise under the rule that allows Commissioner Roger Goodell to impose punishment for conduct detrimental to the game. Instead, the authority comes from Resolution FC-6, adopted in 1997.
Resolution FC-6 specifically relates to any effort by “any member club or any entity controlled by any direct or indirect owner of an interest in a member club” that becomes involved in litigation against the NFL or any of the member clubs. The resolution, a copy of which PFT has obtained, applies not only when a member club initiates litigation against the league or other member clubs but also when a member club “joins, has a direct, football-related financial interest in, or offers substantial assistance in any lawsuit or other legal, regulatory, or administrative proceeding” against the league or other member clubs.
Resolution FC-6 gives the Commissioner or his designee “final and binding” authority” to “determine the amount of said legal fees, litigation expenses, and costs,” after the club to be charged those amounts has “notice and an opportunity . . . to be heard.”
So what do these provisions mean, as it relates to the effort to collect more than $2 million from Jones?
First, the claim won’t be against Jones directly, but against the Cowboys. It’s a distinction without a difference, but the reports indicating that the effort will be targeted against Jones personally makes it feel more like revenge or retribution than it would be if the effort were reported more accurately as a claim only against the Cowboys.
Second, as it relates to the Jones’ effort to block the Commissioner’s contract extension via threat of litigation, no lawsuit was ever filed. Resolution FC-6 applies only when a member club “initiates, has a direct football-related financial interest in, or offers substantial assistance to any lawsuit or other legal, regulatory, or administrative proceeding.” The flurry of letters and communications that occur under the threat of a potential lawsuit (a common practice in civil litigation) do not constitute actual litigation. Thus, the Cowboys/Jones will be able to argue that none of the fees incurred in connection with his retention of lawyer David Boies and the back-and-forth arising from the mere possibility of litigation fall within the scope of Resolution FC-6.
Third, the Cowboys/Jones specifically refrained from becoming involved in the Ezekiel Elliott litigation. Team executive Stephen Jones characterized the team as “observers” in the litigation initially filed by Elliott in Texas, which was followed by the league filing a lawsuit of its own in New York.
Fourth, the question will become whether the Cowboys/Jones crossed the line into offering “substantial assistance” to Elliott via the declaration filed by Cowboys general counsel Jason Cohen (who testified that the Cowboys would suffer irreparable harm if Elliott is suspended and who corroborated the alleged effort to conceal the opinions of league investigator Kia Roberts from Goodell) or other specific help that the Cowboys provided.
Fifth, the Cowboys/Jones will have an opportunity, if they so desire, to pour over all of the various invoices and other itemizations of charges to argue that the lawyers charged too much for their services or otherwise engaged in unnecessary or irrelevant projects. If the details of any invoices showing excessive legal charges make their way into the hands of the media, that could prove to be embarrassing to the league.
Sixth, Resolution FC-6 specifically preserves the ability of the Commissioner to impose punishment against Jones for conduct detrimental to the league. Thus, the issue of legal fees may be not the end of this effort to recover money from Jones for his behavior in 2017, but the beginning.
Seventh, while Resolution FC-6 gives the Commissioner the sole power to determine the amount of fees to be paid, it’s silent as to the process for resolving the question of whether a member club has actually triggered the reimbursement obligation. Ultimately, then, the Cowboys/Jones eventually could file litigation aimed at proving that the Cowboys/Jones never filed litigation or substantially assisted litigation filed by Elliott.
So, to sum, there may be further legal fees incurred to determine whether Jones was a party to the Elliott litigation and whether or not he is responsible for legal fees caused by the fear of litigation. And Goodell could still try to extract up to $500,000 more as an actual fine.
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Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com reports that Jerry Jones and the Cowboys actually wrote the smallest amount of checks to players in the 2017 league year (so he should have plenty of funds to pay Goodell):
Far more important than the annual salary cap is the actual cash spent each year, by every team. Last year, with the cap at $167 million, half of the teams spent more than the cap, and another half of the teams were under it.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, teams collectively spent $5.274 billion in 2017, an average of 98.69-percent of the total cap. The highest spenders were the Lions, at $204.46 million, or 122.4 percent of the cap.
At the other end were the Cowboys, who spent only $115.65 million. That’s only 69.26 percent of the cap.
The difference between cash and cap comes from prorated bonuses paid out in past year (for those currently spending under the cap in cash spending) or prorated bonuses paid out in the current year (for those currently spending over it).
Here’s the full list of cash spent in 2017:
1. Lions, $204.46 million (122.4 percent).
2. Panthers, $198.76 million (119.02 percent).
3. Packers, $183.23 million (109.72 percent).
4. Jaguars, $181.44 million (108.65 percent).
5. Dolphins, $179.43 million (107.44 percent).
6. Bears, $179.23 million (107.32 percent).
7. Browns, $177.1 million (106.05 percent).
8. 49ers, $174.57 million (104.53 percent).
9. Falcons, $173.88 million (104.12 percent).
10. Washington, $173.78 million (104.06 percent).
11. Raiders, $173.29 million (103.76 percent).
12. Vikings, $172.86 million (103.51 percent).
13. Eagles, $170.64 million (102.18 percent).
14. Patriots, $168.97 million (101.18 percent).
15. Seahawks, $168.61 million (100.96 percent).
16. Cardinals, $167.86 million (100.51 percent).
17. Steelers, $165.07 million (98.85 percent).
18. Titans, $164.24 million (98.35 percent).
19. Giants, $162.64 million (97.39 percent).
20. Bengals, $160.81 million (96.29 percent).
21. Chargers, $160.58 million (96.15 percent).
22. Rams, $159.2 million (95.33 percent).
23. Buccaneers, $156.87 million (93.93 percent).
24. Saints, $155.93 million (93.37 percent).
25. Broncos, $152.55 million (91.35 percent).
26. Bills, $150.59 million (90.15 percent).
27. Ravens, $149.28 million (89.39 percent).
28. Texans, $144.04 million (86.25 percent).
29. Colts, $143.41 million (85.88 percent).
30. Jets, $143.08 million (85.68 percent).
31. Chiefs, $141.99 million (85.02 percent).
32. Cowboys, $115.657 million (69.26 percent).
QB CASE KEENUM seems likely to reach free agency per an NFL.com report from Ian Rapoport. And that may be a sign that KIRK COUSINS is heading to the Bold North.
Add Minnesota to the list of teams heat-seeking a new starting quarterback.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Monday that the Vikings are not expected to apply the franchise tag to Case Keenum, allowing last year’s breakout starter to hit free agency, per sources with knowledge of the team’s thinking.
Barring a change of heart, Minnesota will join the list of clubs open to starting anew under center, with free-agent mega-prize Kirk Cousins coming into view as a legitimate target for the team’s Super Bowl-ready roster.
NFL.com‘s Gil Brandt, the former Cowboys executive, suggested Monday on Twitter that: “If I were a betting man, I’d say (Minnesota is) where he lands. Certainly interest on both sides.”
Cousins is expected to command a vast mountain of cash on the open market, but the Vikings have more than enough loot to make it happen, sitting ninth overall in cap space as of this writing, per OverTheCap.com.
The Falcons have no plans to move on from RB TEVIN COLEMAN. Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com:
Atlanta Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said the team has no plans to trade backup running back Tevin Coleman despite signing starter Devonta Freeman to a lucrative deal back in August.
Dimitroff, speaking to Rick Kamla and John Michaels of 92.9 The Game radio in Atlanta, was asked if trading Coleman with one year left on his contract could be an option heading into the 2018 season.
“We are not considering trading Tevin Coleman, period,” Dimitroff told Kamla. “He’s an important part of this organization. And our focus is on this upcoming year, and trade is not in our thought process.”
Coleman, a 2015 third-round draft pick from Indiana, is entering the final year of his rookie deal and due to make $791,268 with a cap number of $977,959. The Falcons gave the former fourth-round pick Freeman a five-year, $41.25 million extension that included more than $22 million guaranteed.
During the team’s season-ending news conference, Dimitroff said the Falcons could “realistically” sign Coleman to extension and maintain the two-headed running back attack with Freeman. But Coleman and his agent, Adisa Bakari, likely won’t settle for just any deal, considering Coleman’s explosive big-play ability.
Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer confirms what had been considered likely – ace G ANDREW NORWELL can be had in free agency.
GM Marty Hurney seemed to make his decision on Norwell last summer when he gave right guard Trai Turner a four-year, $45 million extension. Teams typically don’t pay two guards big money, which is what Norwell is looking for after coming to Carolina as an undrafted free agent in 2014 and developing into an All-Pro. Someone will pay Norwell handsomely, but it is highly doubtful it will be the Panthers.
Q. So the Panthers need to sign or draft a guard, right?
A. More than likely – and ideally one who can also play center. Pro Bowl center Ryan Kalil, who has battled through major injuries each of the past two years, recently told the Observer that 2018 would be his final season. So finding an interior lineman to replace Norwell and/or groom behind Kalil makes sense.
But the Panthers also have potential answers on the roster. Tyler Larsen, who has filled in admirably for Kalil, was a center at Utah State, but played guard during preseason stints with Miami, Washington and Carolina. Taylor Moton, a second-round pick last season, was primarily a right tackle at Western Michigan, but started at right guard one season (and played well enough to earn third-team all-MAC honors).
Two other veterans are sent packing. Marc Sessler of NFL.com:
Kurt Coleman is suddenly looking for work.
The Carolina Panthers have released the veteran safety the team announced Monday.
The move opens up $2.65 million in cap space, with the rest of Coleman’s $5.25 million hit absorbed in dead cash.
The Panthers also parted ways with longtime defensive end Charles Johnson. Drafted in 2007 out of Georgia, Johnson ranks second all-time in franchise history in sacks and forced fumbles behind Julius Peppers. Johnson saw a diminished role on defense in 2017 and was a healthy scratch for the Panthers’ playoff game against the Saints.
Set to turn 30 in July, Coleman started 12 games for Carolina last year in his third season with the franchise. Finishing as the 82nd-ranked player at his position, per Pro Football Focus, Coleman’s exit will allow the Panthers to pursue a younger option at safety.
It’s fair to wonder if Bills coach Sean McDermott, Carolina’s old defensive coordinator, would make a play for Coleman’s services. The veteran also played in Kansas City under ex-Chiefs general manager John Dorsey. Now in Cleveland, Dorsey could snatch up the backstop to help a defense sorely in need of safety depth.
CB MARCUS PETERS doesn’t agree with the big Chiefs trade. No, not the one that is sending him the Rams, that is “just business.”
Marcus Peters didn’t seem fazed by the trade that will send him from Kansas City to Los Angeles next month. The other blockbuster trade the Chiefs will complete once the new league year begins on March 14, though?
That one Peters has a hard time understanding.
Speaking with Michael Robinson on NFL Total Access on Monday, the soon-to-be-ex-Kansas City Chiefs DB said he would have never pulled the trigger on the deal that will send quarterback Alex Smith to the Washington Redskins for a third-round pick and cornerback Kendall Fuller.
“No,” he said when asked if he agreed with the Smith trade. “Man, Alex, Alex don’t get enough respect. And they need to start putting some respect on that man’s name. Because I’ve seen that man get thrown under the bus too many times and he took it as a man. And he never complained about it. He don’t turn over the ball. And he know how to win.”
There’s no denying Smith’s numbers and his regular-season wins. In 2017, he led the league with a 104.7 quarterback rating and threw for a career-high 4,042 yards and 26 touchdowns. In his five seasons with the Chiefs, he logged 53 regular-season victories. But the knock on Smith has always been playoff wins, something he only achieved one of (a 2015 wild-card win over the Texans) in his tenure as signal-caller in K.C.
Peters said that’s not exactly Smith’s fault, though. The collapse against the Titans in the wild-card round last month was on Peters and the defense, the DB said.
“That was our fault for messing up the playoffs,” Peters said. “That was our fault.”
The Jaguars won’t have the only new uniforms in the AFC South. Jason Wolf of The Tennessean:
How do you reveal the Tennessee Titans’ first new uniforms in almost two decades?
With a public street party headlined by multi-platinum selling country duo Florida Georgia Line.
The Titans announced plans for the April 4 unveiling during a Saturday evening event attended by approximately 8,000 season ticket holders at Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center. The team also unveiled a logo to commemorate the 20th season since the franchise re-branded from the Oilers to the Titans, which players are planning to wear as a small decal on the back of their helmets throughout next season.
“We wanted to create a unique event for the new uniform unveiling in April,” Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk told The Tennessean before the event.
“Being in Nashville, it only made sense to include a concert, and we are thrilled Florida Georgia Line has agreed to join us,” she said. “This will be a fun show for our fans — they will get to see the new uniforms and enjoy a terrific concert.”
The free event is set for 7 p.m. April 4 at Broadway and First Avenue — just blocks from Florida Georgia Line’s restaurant FGL House. The duo, which consists of members Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard, said they were initially approached to perform a few songs acoustically. But given the circumstances, the men decided to pull their touring rigs out of storage and give Nashville fans the complete Florida Georgia Line concert experience.
“We’re bringing all the bells and whistles,” Hubbard said.
“We were like, ‘If we’re going to play Nashville, we need to do it right. Let’s rock this thing,’” Kelley said, adding they also planned to bring their pyrotechnics. “We’re just jacked. Nashville is a bull’s-eye for everyone to come to right now. Anytime we can represent the city and the Titans, we’re stepping our game up. We’re just thankful.”
Two decades in Tennessee?! Wow!
– – –
GM Jon Robinson says the Titans will be aggressive in the draft. Jason Wolf of The Tennessean:
Robinson is willing and, based on history, likely to trade picks during the NFL draft, including the 25th overall selection, the franchise’s latest first-round pick since 2009.
“We’ll certainly have a lot more time to just kind of sit back and watch, but we’ll be aggressive as well,” Robinson said Saturday night during an on-stage interview with Titans director of broadcasting Mike Keith at an event for season-ticket holders at Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center. “If there is a player that we really, really, maybe we thought he was going to go in the top 10 and for whatever reason he’s slipping down the board, we’ll try and position ourselves to maybe acquire the guy. Or if we get action on our pick at 25, and a team wants to come up to our pick so that we trade back, I think I have proven that I am willing to trade.
“My phone line is always open.”
The scouting process continues this week at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, where Robinson and his staff will get to interview 60 prospects for 15 minutes apiece and review updated medical information.
Free agency begins March 14. The draft is April 26-28.
The Titans have six draft picks – their own – one in each of the first six rounds. They have no picks in the seventh round.
Knowing Robinson, that’s likely to change.
More: Titans’ Mike Vrabel building foundation by getting to know players personally
Robinson has made 10 trades involving players or picks in his first two years as GM, including whoppers like the “king’s ransom” deal to send the No. 1 overall selection to the Rams in 2016, and relatively minor swaps, including three moves on the final day of last year’s draft.
His two drafts have produced perhaps as many as eight projected starters next season.
All but two of his 19 picks remain on the roster.
“It is about getting the right 53 guys on the team, not necessarily the most talented 53 guys on the team,” Robinson said. “So we scout them, whether they are first-round guys or seventh-round guys; it doesn’t matter where you get drafted. It is getting the evaluation right on the player.”
After making five free agent visits, CB VONTAE DAVIS signs back at his first stop. Chris Wesseling of NFL.com:
After taking five visits on his February free agency tour, former Colts cornerback Vontae Davis has chosen his new team.
The Bills are signing Davis to a one-year contract, the team announced Monday night.
Davis also met with the Browns, 49ers, Raiders and Dolphins within the past 10 days.
While standard free agents must await the onset of the 2018 league year in March, Davis is eligible to sign with a new team because he was released prior to the end of the 2017 season.
The two-time Pro Bowl selection is ranked No. 31 on Around The NFL’s list of the Top 101 free agents of 2018.
Although Davis was a legitimate lockdown corner at the height of his Indianapolis career — going nearly two years without allowing a touchdown — his effectiveness has waned while battling injuries the past two seasons. The Bills are banking on his ability to regain pre-injury form, often a shaky proposition for players approaching the age-30 barrier.
With the veteran trio of E.J. Gaines, Shareece Wright and Leonard Johnson due to reach the open market in their own right, Davis should slide in opposite 2017 first-round pick Tre’Davious White as an immediate starter in Buffalo.
Davis sent out a tweet the simply said “#BillsMafia.”
NEW YORK JETS
LB DYLAN DONAGHUE with an embarrassing DUI, one that thankfully was not fatal, as he found himself going the wrong way in the Lincoln Tunnel. Caitlin Mota of the Jersey Journal:
Jets linebacker Dylan Donahue was arrested early Monday morning after causing a wrong-way crash at the Lincoln Tunnel, authorities said.
Four passengers of a jitney bus were injured in the 2 a.m. crash in the center tube of the tunnel, Port Authority spokesman Joe Pentangelo said.
Donahue, 25, who was selected in the fifth round of the 2017 draft by the Jets, was charged with DWI and reckless driving. He is next due in court on March 13, in Weehawken.
A Port Authority police officer on the Weehawken side of the tunnel saw Donahue drive a Dodge Charger around traffic cones and into the center tunnel against traffic, Pentangelo said.
Donahue crashed into a jitney bus that had 15 people on board. Four of the passengers suffered minor injuries and were brought to Hoboken University Medical Center for treatment, the spokesman said.
The rookie linebacker failed sobriety and Breathalyzer tests and was placed under arrest. The passenger in Donahue’s car was charged with disorderly conduct and obstruction during the investigation, police said.
“We are aware of the situation,” a Jets spokesman said. “This is a pending legal matter and we will have no further comment.”
Donahue was a backup and special teams player during his four games with the Jets. He suffered a season-ending injury to his elbow in the Jets win over the Jaguars.
THIS AND THAT
That’s the ugly word coming from the keyboard of Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com who thinks NFL owners may be banding together to keep quarterbacks from earning fari market value:
For the first time since the NFL launched a system of free agency that relies heavily on a salary cap, a healthy complement of veteran quarterbacks soon will hit the open market. And even though recent growth in the salary cap indicates that someone already should be making more than $30 million per year at the quarterback position, there’s a not-so-subtle sense emerging that teams will refuse to overspend.
It could be coincidental, fueled by a mutual realization based on Jacksonville’s decision to keep Blake Bortles at $18 million per year that it becomes impossible to contend if too much money is devoted to the quarterback position. It also could be deliberately coincidental; it could be the product of collusion.
Yes, collusion happens. Yes, it’s hard to prove collusion. (Colin Kaepernick‘s pending grievance may prove otherwise.) Regardless, the league has a built-in structure for communicating to teams cautionary tales of overspending, and for nudging them away from blowing the curve. Coincidentally (or not), reports have emerged in recent days that teams like the Jets won’t give Kirk Cousins a blank check — and that teams like the Cardinals aren’t even interested in joining what could become a runaway bid process for the first healthy franchise quarterback under the age of 30 to hit the open market.
This dynamic could impact other quarterbacks, like Drew Brees. A team intent on competing to win the Super Bowl this year should offer him $30 million per year. Don’t be surprised if people start talking about his age or otherwise picking nits about the current state of his game, as a precursor to no one offering dramatically more than whatever the Saints will pay.
Ditto for lesser options like Case Keenum and A.J. McCarron. Some now believe that each guy will be hard pressed to get more than Bortles got from the Jaguars.
Then there are the red-flag veterans, competent players with lingering knee problems. The money simply may not be there for Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater, if the money isn’t as big as it was expected to be for Cousins, Brees, Keenum, and McCarron.
The ultimate leverage for most quarterback-needy teams will be the draft, where potential quarterbacks can be found at very affordable five-year deals. Look at the list of annual pay rates for quarterbacks; the bottom third of it is full of players operating under the terms of assembly-line deals crafted by a system aimed at preventing busts from stealing money — and that also allows teams to squat on talented players for four or five years at well-below-market rates.
Count Mike Mayock as a member of the JOSH ALLEN Fan Club. Chris Wesseling of NFL.com:
Speaking to reporters on a conference call Monday, Mayock touted Josh Allen as the “biggest-arm quarterback” he’s seen since Raiders draft bust and former No. 1 overall pick JaMarcus Russell entered the league just over a decade ago.
Mayock fully expects Allen to be in strong consideration when new Browns general manager John Dorsey pulls the trigger to jumpstart this year’s draft at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
“I’ve got Allen at No. 2, so obviously I think he’s in the mix more so than Josh Rosen,” Mayock said. “I think you have to kind of look at it from John Dorsey’s point of view, also, and look at what he did a year ago at Kansas City, when he traded for the biggest-arm quarterback in that draft in Patrick Mahomes.
“So I think when you’re the GM of Cleveland, you got to be thinking about the weather, playing outside, you need a big arm. His new offensive coordinator (Todd Haley) came over from Pittsburgh and he’s used to Ben Roethlisberger. So, to me, Josh Allen has to be in that conversation at or one or four, along with (Sam) Darnold, perhaps Rosen and (Baker) Mayfield. But I think, just my gut, l think Darnold and Allen are the two guys they’d consider the most highly.”
Mayock has ranked only USC’s Darnold ahead of Allen on his initial list of the top-five prospects at each position. In doing so, he’s projecting Allen’s tantalizing physical traits to supersede the accuracy concerns and lack of production at Laramie last season.
“I look at Allen and I just can’t believe how much potential and upside is there,” Mayock explained to NFL Network’s Lindsay Rhodes earlier this month. “He’s the exact same size as Carson Wentz. He’s coached by the same head coach that Carson Wentz had at North Dakota State, so he’s coming out of a pro-style system.”